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Fringe's Universe B - Home of the WalternateNo one in Fox’s epic sci-fi drama about governmental investigations surrounding the obscure, bizarre, and inter-dimensional happenings around Boston is really sure how or why a parallel world so close to ours came to exist.
What we do know is Eric Stoltz starred in Back to the Future, they use zeppelins as a regular mode of transportation, and no one has ever heard of U2. Unsightly cell phones are replaced with fashionable "ear cuffs", Martin Luther King, Jr. is on the $20 bill, and the sexy doppelganger to one FBI agent, Olivia Dunham, known in our world as "Faux-Livia," has an overall more appealing hair cut. If you ignore the small pox outbreak, the only thing from making this universe any more superior is the yet-to-be-discovered joy of Peanut M&Ms.
- 2In this Futurama episode, the professor attempts to destroy a mysterious box that almost kills him by blasting it like Herme’s zombie mother into the sun. However, the curiosity surrounding the contents of the cardboard receptacle is too great for Leela to bear, so before she delivers it to her fiery destination, she flips a coin to decide whether or not to risk unleashing, unknown terrors upon her and the Planet Express crew. The coin lands in her self-destructing favor, and she peers inside only to fall into an alternate reality where coin-flips in our universe have the opposite outcome.
The result is a slightly different color scheme for the characters and the sky (apparently even God flips a coin to decide things), Fry and Leela are happily married, and we get to see an alternative Bender with a glorious golden ass. "The Farnsworth Parabox" also allows us to delve into some of the other awesome alternate universes, including a robot world, a hippie inhabited world, and a bobble-headed world, for some reason.
Marvel ExilesRefugees from space and time, the Exiles are mutants from the X-Men realities who have been recruited to help repair cosmic abnormalities which have resulted in adverse effects across universes. A veritable mashup of the Marvel world as we know it and a series of "What-If" happenings, the Exiles, originally comprised of Blink, Mimic, Magnus, Thunderbird, Nocturne, and Morph, take us on a world-tour of the Marvel multiverse, indulging us in the good and bad, although mostly bad, alternative outcomes of some of the best of the "X-Men" series.
While much of what the Exiles themselves experience is disturbing, the worlds they uncover present well-constructed and thorough interpretations of alternate realities, which add depth and intrigue to an already intricate cast of worlds and characters. In addition, we as readers get to experience things we might not ever get to without the Exile universes, such as Dr. Doom being a hero, how worlds can be saved by buying a danish, and Sabretooth’s one-night stand with an alternate world's Invisible Woman.
South Park's ImaginationlandThis three-part episode of "South Park’s" tongue-in-cheek chronicle of political anxiety begins with a search for a leprechaun and develops into the discovery of a land that is inhabited by all the fictional characters ever dreamed up in movies, television, and literature. I don’t think I need to explain the awesomeness of having a world where you can rub elbows with the likes of Buddha, Count Chocula, and Jason Bourne at the same time simply by singing the ridiculously simple "Imagination Song."
Sure, it’s bordered by a world that’s inhabited by the evil manifestations of our darkest fears, but until terrorists unleash havoc upon our dream world, we get to enjoy the thought of Gandalf the Grey, Luke Skywalker, and Jesus kicking it together on a regular basis.
Imaginationland also offers us the opportunity to view constantly s**t-upon Butters as the key to world salvation, and the unsettling satisfaction that comes with seeing the payment of a bet actually come into fruition in the form of imaginary Kyle sucking real-world Cartman’s balls.
- 5"A Link to the Past" is a video game for the SNES, which follows our beloved protagonist Link as he transported into two alternate realities, a light world and a dark world version of his known Hyrule. One is a Sacred place used to house the powerful wish-granting Triforce, and the Dark World is a shady and twisted version of the first realm created when the Triforce grants the corrupted desires of Ganandorf.
Whomever enters this Dark World is transformed into shapes reflecting their personalities, turning most of it’s greedy and impure inhabitants into unspeakable monsters. Ganandorf himself becomes a giant manbearpig and shortens his name, while the universe mutates our virtuous hero into that of a pink bunny.
The Dark World is one that mirrors the Hyrule of previous games but with the evil additions of swamps and skeleton territories, making it a more sinister and threatening reality but engrossing and oddly refreshing at the same time. It serves as an interesting and revealing dichotomy not only in game play but also between Link and the rest of the corrupted environment.
A Link to the Past also has some of the best music ever presented in the Zeldaverse, making it a worthwhile reality for that fact alone.
Next Generation: ParallelsWhile the Star Trek franchise is no stranger to alternate realities (the original series episode "Mirror, Mirror," is not only a staple to science fiction, but to science fiction spoofs everywhere), the Parallels episode of the Next Generation series arguably offers the broadest and most humbling glance into parallel realms.
In it, Lt. Worf is accosted by a surprise 30th birthday party, only to experience glaring signs of skipping realities, such as the cake changing from chocolate to yellow and a painting being hung on a different wall. After Worf’s experiences escalade into Picard randomly appearing and disappearing and his bat’leth trophies becoming blatantly inaccurate, the word "concussion" is tossed around a bit. The confused Klingon unknowingly endures many other realities, including several where Riker is Captaining the Enterprise and he is married to Deanna Troi, until it is ultimately determined that Worf is indeed being transported across universes caused by a fissure in the space/time continuum. When an attempt to right the problem is made, the fissure destabilizes, as fissures are want to do, and over 285,000 realities culminate into the same area of space, shockingly without a single collision.
After a scuffle with a Borg-overrun universe, Lt. Worf eventually does make it safely back to his own reality, armed with the knowledge that not only does he not have to endure another surprise party, but that Troi is not completely adverse to interspecies mating.
- 7While avoiding a lame birthday party for Honker and simultaneously getting dangerous, Drake Mallard, aka Darkwing Duck, plummets into the secret hideout of his arch nemesis, Negaduck, by way of the most awesome portal to another world ever utilized in science fiction, a stripper-sized giant birthday cake.
Unlike every other parallel universe mentioned in this compilation, the Negaverse is the only world where everything contained within it is completely opposite of the known reality. The pristine city of St. Canard becomes a wasteland, the Fearsome Five become the Friendly Four, and tomboyish Gosalyn even dons a pink dress and curls, for the love of all that is holy.
Like a cartoonish and bird centric version of It’s a Wonderful Life, the realm of the Negaverse also serves as a point of self reflection for Darkwing, who emerges from the giant pastry with a newfound appreciation for his friends and homeland once he escapes back into his own reality. Unfortunately, Darkwing’s reemergence meant the disappearance of the cake-portal, a recipe which scientists have spent years trying to reproduce without success.
- 8Functioning within the pages of legendary horror novelist Steven King’s seven-part magnum opus are a bevy of realities that weave in and out of one another, creating one giant melting point of multiverses.
More fantasy than science in nature, these realms are nonetheless independent and intricate worlds from which characters in alternate realities, as well our own, travel primary through wooden doors without the security of walls or hinges. The In- and Mid-World environments where we follow the adventures of antihero Roland and his "Ka-tet" of gunslingers, somewhat resemble the Old West and medieval eras of our world, improved slightly with the inclusion of magic and mentally unstable machinery.
King spares not a word in his development of these worlds, and the alternate versions of some of our own places and times, I’d have to say, at least 97% of the nearly 50,000 pages is devoted to making it seem as real as possible. To this day, I can’t swear I haven’t been to the town of Mejis.